15 Celebratory Meals for Christmas {that don’t involve turkey or ham}

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best celebratory Christmas meals

Whether you’re looking for a show-stopping holiday meal that suits all the diet needs around your table or just want to do something beyond the traditional, we’ve got you covered. Here are 15 of the Best Celebratory Christmas Meals that don’t include turkey or ham. 

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that holidays don’t have to be traditional to still feel special. There have been scaled-down celebrations, meals at home, perhaps even roasting a whole turkey for the first time. A few years ago our family decided to skip the elaborate traditional Christmas meal of roasted turkey or ham in favor of something different. From Blackened Salmon with Citrus Salsa Verde to a Savory Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Wreath, it has been fun to mix things up and enjoy a celebration that doesn’t necessarily take the entire day to prepare. 

Enjoy this list of my favorite non-turkey / non-ham Christmas meals rounded up from all around the web. And happy holidays, however you celebrate!

1. Black Bean and Zucchini Enchiladas

enchiladas in a white baking dish

There is something that feels so special about everyone gathering around one large centerpiece dish, and a casserole-style one can be prepped ahead and baked until bubbly and hot. These vegetarian enchiladas are filled with melty cheese, roasted zucchini, and black beans for plenty of texture and flavor. 

2. Tomato Braised Lamb Shanks

tomato braised lamb shanks in a blue dutch oven

These Italian-style Tomato Braised Lamb Shanks are perfect for entertaining and feel special enough for a holiday meal. Make them ahead and simply heat them up whenever you’re ready to serve. Bonus that these can can be easily scaled to serve a small or large gathering. 

3. Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Calabrian Chimichurri

whole roasted cauliflower in a white bowl

A whole roasted cauliflower always steals the show at a vegetarian feast. This version uses a technique I love – it’s steamed before being rubbed with spices and roasted until crisp. Topped with homemade chimichurri, this packs a flavorful punch and shows off all the colors of the season!

4. Lamb Wellington

lamb wellington and asparagus on a black plate

A classic Beef Wellington is always a hit during the holidays but I love this twist. Made with a lamb loin and plenty of mushrooms, you can make and assemble the filled pastry ahead ready to bake.

5. Braised Red Wine Short Ribs

short ribs over polenta in a white bowl

Braised short ribs are one of my favorite celebratory Christmas meals because they are incredibly forgiving. Prep them ahead and just warm them up to serve whenever folks get hungry. The meat is so tender and the cooking liquid so flavorful that you’ll want to serve them over a grain to soak up every last bite. 

6. Broiled Lobster Tails

lobster tails on a white plate

Nothing says celebration like lobster tails! This Christmas meal recipe is simple and classic and includes many helpful step by step photos to help you prepare your lobster to perfection.

7. Slow Cooker Prime Rib

prime rib sliced on a wooden cutting board

It can be easy to overcook a prime rib, especially with the added stress of guests, so I love this version made in the slow cooker. This easy-to-follow method includes instructions for medium, medium rare, and rare beef.

8. Savory Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Wreath

mushroom and onion wreath on a grey plate

How festive and beautiful is this vegan-friendly main dish? Crisp vegan puff pastry encases a deceptively simple, rich mushroom-based filling. Get ahead by making the caramelized onions in advance.

9. How To Roast Beef Tenderloin

drizzling juices over beef tenderloin

Beef tenderloin feels like a special Christmas meal and can be scaled to serve any size gathering. Here, it is simply cooked with a garlic browned butter sauce and ready to pair with a table full of classic or non-traditional holiday sides!

10. Sheet Pan Crispy Chicken Thighs and Lemon Rosemary Potatoes

chicken thighs and potatoes on a white tray with rosemary

This is a sheet pan meal that doesn’t feel like a sheet pan meal when served. Crispy chicken thighs and tender lemon rosemary potatoes give this meal a classic feel that just needs a crisp fresh salad on the side to be ready to serve. 

11. Korean Oven Braised Short Ribs

short ribs over rice on a grey plate

If you’re looking to try something totally different this Christmas, these Korean Oven Braised Short Ribs get my vote. Made with classic Korean flavors, this slow cooked beef dish can be made ahead and is great served over rice or noodles. 

12. Stuffed Acorn Squash

stuffed acorn squash on blue plates

If you want a vegetarian dish that feels like it holds its own as a main course, stuffed squash gets my vote. Filled with quinoa and lentils, this version is hearty and comforting and would be great reheated for leftovers.

13. Bacon & Cranberry Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

sliced pork tenderloin on a white tray

Bacon & Cranberry Stuffed Pork Tenderloin celebrates all the flavors of the season. Using this boneless cut also means it’s easy to slice and serve right at the table.

14. Roast Rack of Lamb

sliced rack of lamb on a white plate

With a herby, garlicky rub, a rack of lamb can be one of the most impressive cuts of meat to bring to the table. I love how easily it pairs with almost any seasonal side you can think of!

15. Blackened Salmon with Citrus Salsa Verde

blackened salmon with citrus salmon verde on a foil lined sheet pan

This impressive Blackened Salmon recipe is full of bright, bold, flavors that feel so much lighter than the traditional holiday fare. 

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About Jess Smith

Jess is the recipe creator and photographer at InquiringChef.com. She spent nearly a decade as the Chief Recipe Developer for the award-winning meal planning app Cook Smarts. Her colorful, healthyish recipes have been featured in popular online publications including Parade, Hallmark, and HuffPost.

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